No one really knew when it happened. One day, things were normal and the next day, they were… decidedly not normal.
After all, there is nothing normal about a mafia squad suddenly appearing at the scene of the latest Agency case to morph into something significantly more life-threatening than any of them had anticipated. Not even Dazai seemed to have been prepared for how violent the case became—and even though it is hard at the best of times to determine if something has really surprised Dazai or if he is playing a part, the near-death experience certainly looked too close for even Dazai’s comfort.
True to character, Dazai is the first one to take the sudden influx of mafia members in stride. It takes all of a second for sharp brown eyes to scan the arrivals, run calculations, and come to the conclusion that, for the moment, the mafia is an ally. In the next breath, he’s calling out orders to the Agency, moving their positions, giving them new goals, every word sharp with the confidence it will be followed to the letter.
(And even though they all know Kunikida is higher up in the chain of command than Dazai, no one takes so much as a second to verify the orders with Kunikida before following them. It is moments like these that make Atsushi wonder just how much power Dazai really holds.)
The mafia flows into the gaps left by Dazai’s orders as if they, or whoever is giving their orders, had anticipated the way Dazai rearranged the Agency. It’s seamless, like the person in charge knew what move Dazai would make almost before Dazai made it.
Just as the thought flickers through Atsushi’s mind, a familiar silhouette strides through the ranks of the mafia squad, jacket billowing behind him as blue eyes scan the area. They pass over Atsushi with little more than a curt nod of recognition before they settle on Dazai.
Atsushi flinches unconsciously, attention divided between where Kunikida and Tanizaki are finally slipping into the back door of the building they had come to investigate and where the former partners were taking each other in. Even though more than a year has passed since the uneasy truce between the two organizations that forced them to work together, the few times the two men have been anywhere near each other have been marked by pointed insults, creative threats, and a degree of tension that managed to even unnerve Kyouka.
They don’t have time for Dazai and Chuuya to get into an argument or a…whatever it is they did around each other. But despite them not having time for it, Atsushi steels himself for it to happen anyway because the two men seem to ignore all of their surroundings when they get a chance to dig at each other.
Except, today, they don’t.
Chuuya merely quirks an eyebrow at Dazai, gaze flicking down to the wound on Dazai’s side, where red is steadily blooming in a flower on Dazai’s clothing, before returning to Dazai’s stare. The corner of Dazai’s lip twitches upwards in a ghost of a smile and one shoulder lifts just the slightest and then drops.
Atsushi’s own eyes widen when he realizes that the two are having a silent conversation, seemingly able to read the questions and responses as easily as if words had been spoken. It’s over so quickly—both men turning back to the fight without more than a shallow incline of Chuuya’s head—that Atsushi might never have noticed if he wasn’t used to seeing nonverbal conversations pass between Dazai and Kunikida, or Yosano and Ranpo, or Tanizaki and Naomi—the people in the Agency who seemed to be able to read each other’s minds with ease.
It shouldn’t be as much of a shock as it is. After all, Atsushi knows about Double Black, knows about the attempted recreation using himself and Akutagawa. But he just assumed Dazai and Chuuya’s partnership was as volatile as his and Akutagawa’s, assumed that while the men could work together seamlessly when necessary, their communication suffered because of whatever lingering…hate? resentment? anger? came between them.
Instead, there is familiarity that speaks to something less dysfunctional than Atsushi has always assumed and as his eyes fall on the wound that Dazai seems determined to continue the mission with, he briefly wonders if the mafia squad’s appearance is less about the Port Mafia keeping their eyes on an organization they could use in the future and more about Chuuya keeping his eye on Dazai.
With Dazai and Chuuya’s attention focused completely on the task ahead of them, the job wraps up quickly. Kunikida and Tanizaki reappear with a file in Tanizaki’s hands as Kunikida glares at the mafia squad, daring them to try and take the information.
The mafia doesn’t seem to so much as register the dare. An order is snapped out and they turn away, checking weapons and injuries as they fade back into the shadows. Atsushi is able to make out the tail-end of a phone call requesting a “cleanup” at their location and he grimaces, glancing at the handful of bodies left behind from whatever force had been charged with guarding the location.
“We’ll get this back to the president,” Kunikida’s soft comment is directed at Dazai, his own nose wrinkled at how comfortable Dazai seems as he kneels over a corpse, studying it. “Do you know who they were?”
Dazai lets out a thoughtful hum, “No, but I have a few theories. I’ll ask around.”
“After you see Yosano about that wound.” It’s not a request.
Straightening from his crouch, Dazai flashes a lopsided grin at his partner, “You worry too much, Kunikida-kun, I’m fine.”
“You’re still bleeding.”
Dazai waves the hand not pressing against his wound through the air, as if the matter is trivial and undeserving of his attention. “I’ve had worse. Get the file to the president. We should be gone before the mafia cleanup crews show up.” Turning on his heel, he starts down the alley toward the street. “I’ll get in touch when I have some answers.”
There is a scoff and a muttered insult from Kunikida as Dazai leaves, the rest of the Agency members present turning to Kunikida for directions. Only Atsushi watches Dazai make his way all the way down the alley and slide into the discreet black car sitting idle on the street.
Before the door closes, Atsushi thinks he sees a flash of red hair. For some reason, it makes him smile.
Something is definitely different, and he gets the impression that the change might just be a good one.
Not a word is spoken as the car pulls away from the curb and into traffic. No matter how loyal and discreet the driver of the vehicle is, neither man is inclined to risk the safety that comes with silence.
The flicker of streetlights illuminates the interior, throwing relief on the features of the passengers. Their backs are straight, almost rigid, the occasional rustle of fabric when one shifts in their seat is almost deafening.
Dazai’s eyes are fixed out the window, narrowed in an expression that Chuuya knows to be deep concentration—a state so absolute for the detective that he wouldn’t be surprised if Dazai no longer registers the pain from his injury.
Chuuya’s own gaze shifts between studying Dazai—taking stock of the injury and watching the way brown eyes glint as theories and ideas are considered and discarded at a dizzying speed—and glancing at his phone, taking in the stream of reports and deflecting questions with ease.
When the car rolls to a stop, Chuuya is up and out the door before the driver can even think about stepping around to open it for him. He doesn’t offer a hand to help Dazai out of the vehicle, he simply waits until the taller man is standing beside him before shutting the door and tapping the roof of the car in a pre-determined signal.
The car melts back into traffic and Chuuya leads the way into the high-rise it dropped them outside of. None of the staff so much as blink at the sight of the two men, or the blood on Dazai’s clothes. A few nod in a quiet greeting that they reciprocate on their way to the elevator. The companionable silence continues until the elevator stops, they step into a hallway, Chuuya unlocks a door, and they slip into a dark apartment.
As soon as the door closes and locks behind them, Chuuya is rounding on Dazai with a scowl. Black gloves are tugged off his hands without the usual care they receive and are tossed on the low table just to his right. As soon as that is dealt with, Chuuya’s hand shoots out and up towards Dazai’s face and brushes against the sharp line of Dazai’s jaw, resting against the skin.
It’s like a switch flips.
The line of nearly invisible tension in Dazai’s body vanishes, his head drops just slightly to press against Chuuya’s hand as the sharp look of calculation melts away, leaving behind a fondness in his gaze that always makes Chuuya’s breath catch in his throat when it first appears. He steps closer, crossing into Dazai’s personal space without hesitation or concern about being rejected, the proximity making his own tension fade away.
The surge of concern he had felt when word had reached him of the ambush waiting for the Agency detectives, for Dazai, was helpful. It was that wave of emotion that got him moving, that had a mafia squad on the scene in record time with no one daring to second-guess Chuuya’s orders despite the fact that the two organizations are no longer in a truce. But he doesn’t need that push of adrenaline anymore, not when they’re together and alone and able to be honest.
“You’re an idiot,” Chuuya murmurs, breaking the silence at last.
Dazai’s mouth twitches in a small smile, “I’m not. I was smart and planned ahead.”
“Funny. From where I was standing it looked like you got caught off-guard and nearly got yourself killed. You call that planning ahead?”
“No, I call making Chuuya care about me enough to bail me out of trouble planning ahead.”
Chuuya snorts. “I never would have guessed your plan after the way you nearly panicked when you realized we were in an actual relationship.”
Lower lip protruding in a pout that Chuuya thinks is far too effective considering what the man making the expression is capable of, Dazai whines, “I’m injured. It’s cruel of you to pick on me when I’m hurting.”
Rolling his eyes, Chuuya lets his hand fall from Dazai’s face to lace his fingers through Dazai’s. Pulling Dazai further into the apartment, he stops every couple of steps, first to toe off his shoes and wait for Dazai to do the same, then to shrug off his jacket and his hat. As he walks, he comments, “If you were injured enough for me to be doting on you, you would’ve gone to your organization’s doctor instead of coming home.”
They make their way past the kitchen, past the living room haphazardly filled with books and reports and more than one handheld gaming console, and into their bedroom.
Letting go of Dazai, Chuuya steps into the connected bathroom, not having to direct the taller man to take a seat and wait for him. He makes quick work of pulling out the medical supplies and washing his hands. When he returns, he finds Dazai perched on the window seat, head resting against the wall, eyes fixed out into the night.
“Anything I should know about?” Chuuya asks as he flicks the lights on and drops the kit in the space next to Dazai.
Dazai frowns out the window, considering the question while Chuuya starts picking out what he’ll need to clean the wound. After a few minutes, he shakes his head, “I don’t think so, but I need to ask a couple of questions to make sure.”
Giving a hum of acknowledgment, Chuuya picks up a pair of scissors and begins to cut the material of Dazai’s shirt away. While he was in the bathroom, Dazai discarded of the rest of the clothes save his pants, leaving them in a pile on the floor that will likely end up burned the next day—too stained to be saved. As he works, he listens to Dazai talk, the detective rambling through various theories about what might have happened and how he might go about dealing with it.
There isn’t a need for his input, and Chuuya doesn’t offer it. Even though he had mobilized his subordinates and appeared at the fight, it wasn’t Port Mafia business, so it isn’t his concern unless Dazai asks for help or gets himself in a tight spot. Again.
It’s part of the reason why they work so well. They can both listen and offer advice when needed, but they don’t meddle.
(For the most part.)
Because here, inside their home, their work comes secondary, the facades they wear for others are discarded. First and foremost, they are Dazai and Chuuya, powerful and respected in their own right in their respective organizations, able to be independent just as they’re able to work flawlessly as a pair. They can handle themselves, and it’s this unspoken agreement that makes it so simple to leave everything at the door and simply let themselves be.
When they were younger, Dazai almost never shared his thought process like this, almost never let Chuuya know more about his plans than what he needed Chuuya for. Even now, so many years later, Chuuya is the only person who gets to hear this, who gets an unfiltered peek inside Dazai’s head, who actually hears how many plans and ideas are left unused because of some flaw or better option.
It’s a sign of trust, to let him see Dazai before the optimal strategy is in place, to see Dazai less than perfect, and he savors it, a small smile playing on his lips as he cleans the wound and begins to dress it.
Injury taken care of, Chuuya brushes his fingers against the edges of the bandaging, stark against the bare expanse of Dazai’s chest (his previous bandages in a heap on the window seat). This will become one more scar out of dozens and Chuuya lets his hand travel, brushing against other scars that he was there to witness and more that he only has heard the stories behind once or twice.
“I think Atsushi might have noticed something,” Dazai comments, his attempt at nonchalance belied by the slight gruffness of his voice.
Forcing back a grin at how much he enjoys being able to rip away Dazai’s self-control with a few pointed touches, Chuuya cocks an eyebrow, “What makes you say that?”
“He was watching and he’s more observant than people give him credit for.”
Tearing his attention away from Dazai’s chest, Chuuya meets brown eyes with a knowing smirk, “People that aren’t named Osamu, I’m sure.”
“Well, of course,” Dazai replies, amusement twinkling in his gaze.
“Are you going to do something about it?”
A hand threads through Chuuya’s hair, fingers curling at the back of Chuuya’s head and giving a gentle tug that has Chuuya rising to his feet and sliding onto the window seat, thighs hugging Dazai’s legs as he rests in Dazai’s lap.
“What would the fun in that be?” Dazai asks when Chuuya settles, his expression turning mischievous, “I think I’d rather see how long it takes for him to crack and ask me about it.”
Chuuya lets out a soft laugh, “You’re going to drive the kid insane.”
“Correction, chibi: we’re going to drive the kid insane. You’re my accomplice.”
“I don’t remember agreeing to that.”
Dazai’s answering smile is so light and honest that it’s almost blinding, and Chuuya feels a brief rush of satisfaction at the fact that he is the only one who gets to see this expression, who gets to see this side of the eccentric man underneath him. Leaning forward, Dazai stops only when his mouth is hovering mere inches away from Chuuya’s own. His hand ghosts along Chuuya’s side, pausing when it finds Chuuya’s own, and long fingers brush over the top until they come to rest on the band of gold resting snug and comfortable on a particular finger.
“You agreed to that when you married me, Chuuya. That’s how it works.”
With an extremely put-upon sigh that does nothing to convince either man that it’s genuine, Chuuya concedes, “I suppose you have a point, but I’m not going out of my way to help you pick on your subordinate. You can manage fine on your own.”
He feels Dazai’s thoughtful hum before he hears it. “I can, but I don’t have to.”
It’s impossible to hide his amusement any longer and Chuuya merely smiles and flips his hand over so his fingers can lace with Dazai’s as he closes the distance between them with a kiss. It is chaste and quick and familiar because they’ve shared dozens of kisses like this in the safe haven of their home.
When Chuuya pulls back, he agrees, “You don’t have to. That’s how this works.”
“…I was wondering, the other day…that case that went south when you got injured. It’s just, the mafia squad showed up out of nowhere and-”
“Are you going to ramble all day or ask me a question, Atsushi-kun?”
“Is something going on between you and Chuuya-san?”
The question is blurted out into the office much louder than Atsushi had meant it to be and he feels his cheeks flushing as silence falls over the room and all eyes fly to where he is shifting from foot to foot in front of Dazai’s desk.
A smirk stretches across Dazai’s face and even though his eyes don’t open and he doesn’t straighten from where he is lounging in his chair and doing absolutely no work, Atsushi knows that he’s aware of the scrutiny of the others. “I guess you could say that.”
Atsushi’s eyes widen. “I could?”
Dazai nods. “Marriage could definitely be considered as ‘something going on’ between me and Chuuya.”
He lets out a nervous laugh at the response before realizing that he is the only one laughing, because he is the only one who thinks Dazai’s response was a joke, and the laugh dies out so quickly Atsushi almost isn’t sure he had made any noise at all. Glancing away from Dazai he takes in the wide eyes and dropped jaws of his colleagues and swallows harshly.
“B-but the case…that was months ago!”
Finally, one of Dazai’s eyes cracks open to look at Atsushi, amusement clear in Dazai’s gaze. “Two months and fourteen days, to be precise.”
Unsure what he’s supposed to say in response to that, to the fact that Dazai was evidently keeping track of the passage of time between then and now, Atsushi flounders for a couple seconds before forcing out, “Did you get married that day? Is that why you’ve been keeping track?”
That startles a laugh from Dazai and he sits up straight, turning to face Atsushi with a wide grin, “We got married almost a year ago. I was keeping track because we had a bet on how long it would take you to ask me about it.”
“Oh,” Atsushi says, because what else is there to say?
“Who won?” The question serves to remind Atsushi that everyone has been hanging onto his conversation and he whips his head around to stare at Kenji, who is almost bouncing in his seat with anticipation over the answer.
And it’s that question that makes Dazai’s good mood sour. He slumps back in his seat with a sigh, “Chuuya did. I thought it would take Atsushi-kun at least three months to work up the nerves.”
Opening his mouth to protest that, Atsushi is cut to the chase by Ranpo shouting, “You owe me a week of sweets, Yosano!”
When the bewildered looks switch from Dazai to Ranpo, the detective merely shrugs. “She thought Dazai would win the bet.”
Dropping his head and covering his eyes with his hands, Atsushi stifles a slight groan at the antics of his friends.
Things definitely aren’t normal anymore.